Ski Villages and Authenticity Revisited

Topics of a general nature regarding snowsports, which don't easily fit into one of our other Liftlines categories. This is also the place to post Letters to the Editor.

Re: Ski Villages and Authenticity Revisited

Postby rfarren » Tue Apr 05, 2011 8:04 pm

Marc_C wrote:So basically it seems that anyone who touts one ski village as being more authentic and soulful and denigrates others for "lack of soul" is applying a highly biased, extremely personal world view of judgment that may or may not have any actual relevance. Kinda pulls the rug out from under a number of arguments we've seen here in the past year.

=D> =D> =D>
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Re: Ski Villages and Authenticity Revisited

Postby flyover » Wed Apr 06, 2011 11:09 am

Marc_C wrote:So basically it seems that anyone who touts one ski village as being more authentic and soulful and denigrates others for "lack of soul" is applying a highly biased, extremely personal world view of judgment that may or may not have any actual relevance. Kinda pulls the rug out from under a number of arguments we've seen here in the past year.


IMO the key word in that last sentence is "kinda," as in maybe, sorta, just a little bit. For most reasonable people there are limits to relativity. As an example, try this on for size:

Marc_C wrote:So basically it seems that anyone who touts [insert name of favorite city here - Paris? San Fransisco? Barcelona? Rome? Istanbul?] as being more authentic and soulful and denigrates [Pyongyang, Volgograd (Stalingrad), one of China's "instant cities," etc.] for "lack of soul" is applying a highly biased, extremely personal world view of judgment that may or may not have any actual relevance.
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Re: Ski Villages and Authenticity Revisited

Postby Marc_C » Wed Apr 06, 2011 11:38 am

flyover wrote:
Marc_C wrote:So basically it seems that anyone who touts one ski village as being more authentic and soulful and denigrates others for "lack of soul" is applying a highly biased, extremely personal world view of judgment that may or may not have any actual relevance. Kinda pulls the rug out from under a number of arguments we've seen here in the past year.


IMO the key word in that last sentence is "kinda," as in maybe, sorta, just a little bit. For most reasonable people there are limits to relativity. As an example, try this on for size:

Marc_C wrote:So basically it seems that anyone who touts [insert name of favorite city here - Paris? San Fransisco? Barcelona? Rome? Istanbul?] as being more authentic and soulful and denigrates [Pyongyang, Volgograd (Stalingrad), one of China's "instant cities," etc.] for "lack of soul" is applying a highly biased, extremely personal world view of judgment that may or may not have any actual relevance.


As I said in my OP, I fully reject the notion of villages being authentic or soulful and able to be ranked against each other and I reject the two terms as being pointless descriptors. When used in an argument, they severely undermine and dilute the validity of the position. So "kinda" not as in "...maybe, sorta, just a little bit." but as in "pretty much shreds".

Now saying that you prefer the gestalt of say Telluride to that of Vail, it's much easier to discuss the specific attributes that you dislike or find appealing. But to say that Vail sucks 'cause it's not authentic because there was no town there before the ski area existed is merely clueless, idealistic B.S. born from an excess of granola and patchouli.
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Re: Ski Villages and Authenticity Revisited

Postby soulskier » Thu Apr 07, 2011 4:17 pm

Here is the link to the trailer for documentary Resorting to Madness, Taking back our Mountain Communities.

At 2:16, Hal Clifford and then Skip Harvey (Mammoth's current mayor) chime in with their thoughts that are relevant to this thread.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J0xEJCTr ... ded#at=211
http://www.MountainRidersAlliance.com
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Re: Ski Villages and Authenticity Revisited

Postby Mike Bernstein » Thu Apr 07, 2011 4:28 pm

Marc_C wrote:As I said in my OP, I fully reject the notion of villages being authentic or soulful and able to be ranked against each other and I reject the two terms as being pointless descriptors. When used in an argument, they severely undermine and dilute the validity of the position. So "kinda" not as in "...maybe, sorta, just a little bit." but as in "pretty much shreds".

Now saying that you prefer the gestalt of say Telluride to that of Vail, it's much easier to discuss the specific attributes that you dislike or find appealing. But to say that Vail sucks 'cause it's not authentic because there was no town there before the ski area existed is merely clueless, idealistic B.S. born from an excess of granola and patchouli.


That's fair, but let's take that thought exercise a little further. Gestalt is equivalent to "vibe", yes? If one were to visit Vail, Whistler, or any of the nearly identical, purpose-built base villages at places like Northstar, Squaw, Mammoth, Stratton, Aspen Highlands, Copper, Keystone etc.., one could reasonably conclude that the gestalt/vibe of those places isn't really their cup of tea. Why is that?

1) They are, for all intents and purposes, identical. If you were dropped off blindfolded in the middle of one, you'd be hard pressed to figure out where you were w/o signage indicating the name of the place.

2) They generally do not contain year-round residents - the housing is owned and marketed to out of town, second home residents. That is generally going to hinder the development of a community in that people don't interact with each other on a daily basis and don't have to live with the choices they are making. It's also going to prevent a town's residents from developing a unique character. Rather it will consist solely of people who are just passing through.

3) The construction of purpose built base villages generally takes place over a window of 10-20 years. It does not evolve organically over centuries. This is important not b/c "organic" is inherently good. Hell, Buffalo, Hartford and Detroit have developed organically over centuries too and they are sh!t holes. Rather, this has the effect of distorting the pace and nature of economic development in town. When you are committing hundreds of millions of dollars, if not billions, to build a base village in a relatively short period of time, this has several inevitable results. First, the capital required for this development is massive b/c it's happening all at once. The only way to generate the expected ROI is to maximize retail rents and condo sales prices. From the perspective of retail rents, if I'm the company looking to fill retail space, my only concern is that Starbucks can pay me the $10,000/month I'm looking for. If Jane's Java Nook can only afford $8000/month, tough luck - I've got debt payments to make. Second, and related, is that this capital has to come from out of town, b/c there isn't enough in the local area to finance such a large project. As such, the out of town owner of the new developments are not only looking to maximize their rental income, they are not part of the community and couldn't care less if their tenants are local entrepreneurs. In fact, they probably prefer large, well-known chains b/c they are easier to market to the out-of-towners who own all the condos in the development. FWIW, there are two Starbucks in Vail Village per their website.

Moreover, when your base village consists largely of national chains vs. locally owned stores/restaurants, an inevitable result is that you have fewer business owners in that village and more part-time, low-wage employees. This simply serves to reinforce the socio-economic divide between the wealthy out-of-towners and the locals. One of the reasons why Aspen and Telluride, for all of their faults and high housing costs, are generally considered "real towns" is b/c you've got thousands of year-round residents there who run businesses and form the fabric of a community. When you've got an economic stake in the well-being of a place, you tend to care how it is run and take an active part in the decision-making processes therein.

Now this isn't to suggest that you can objectively define "soul" and say with mathematical certainty that some places have it while others don't. What of Steamboat, Jackson and Stowe, with towns that are as real as it gets, but with relatively new, and somewhat charmless base villages? In sum, I can see both sides here. Soulskier's placing of labels upon a town based on some sort of simplistic criteria is a fruitless exercise. But it's no more worthless than Marc C's utilization of a still photo as some sort of rejoinder. What defines a towns soul can't be captured in a picture of a pedestrian street. It's more about how people live and interact with each other. Is there a unique gestalt, to use Marc's term, or is it characterized by a dull sameness that you can find at any tourist venue? As with just about any issues, there is no black and white here - just many shades of gray. It is disingenous of both sides to suggest otherwise.
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Re: Ski Villages and Authenticity Revisited

Postby rfarren » Thu Apr 07, 2011 6:17 pm

I don't understand one thing:
If there weren't a base village that tourist could stay, then Vail would be more soulful? Everyone knows that that the base villages at Whistler and Vail are entirely constructed for the visitors, but would it be better if they didn't exist? Would it be better if the tourists stayed in Avon or Eagle? Are those Soulful places? Are Breckenridge's copious amount t-shirt shops better than those at the base of Whistler or Vail? I liked Aspen as much as any ski town I've ever stayed in, but it wasn't because it was more "soulful." I honestly think that it doesn't matter to tourists (who keep the resorts in business) if the village is authentic. I love Whistler's town, it is a wonderful experience staying in the base village, and in my eyes equal to staying in Aspen. I wouldn't want to live in Whistler's base village and would for Aspen's, but that has nothing to do with this argument, it has to do with the experience with the tourist. When we are talking about a business where almost all profits are made in a period of four months, where you are competing not only against other resorts but Disney World, Florida, etc... you need all the firepower you can muster, and frankly, most people would prefer to stay in a pedestrianized base village.


Mike Bernstein wrote:1) They are, for all intents and purposes, identical. If you were dropped off blindfolded in the middle of one, you'd be hard pressed to figure out where you were w/o signage indicating the name of the place.

True, but for that matter so is most development around America....
Mike Bernstein wrote:2) They generally do not contain year-round residents - the housing is owned and marketed to out of town, second home residents. That is generally going to hinder the development of a community in that people don't interact with each other on a daily basis and don't have to live with the choices they are making. It's also going to prevent a town's residents from developing a unique character. Rather it will consist solely of people who are just passing through.

That is true for the base village but remember that there are communities around the these places that have full time residents who benefit from the base village. Why does the community at the base have to be the center of attention for residents? Avon has been around over a hundred years, the ski mountain of vail barely 50. Would Avon's community and economy be better off without Vail?
Mike Bernstein wrote:3) The construction of purpose built base villages generally takes place over a window of 10-20 years. It does not evolve organically over centuries. This is important not b/c "organic" is inherently good. Hell, Buffalo, Hartford and Detroit have developed organically over centuries too and they are sh!t holes. Rather, this has the effect of distorting the pace and nature of economic development in town. When you are committing hundreds of millions of dollars, if not billions, to build a base village in a relatively short period of time, this has several inevitable results. First, the capital required for this development is massive b/c it's happening all at once. The only way to generate the expected ROI is to maximize retail rents and condo sales prices. From the perspective of retail rents, if I'm the company looking to fill retail space, my only concern is that Starbucks can pay me the $10,000/month I'm looking for. If Jane's Java Nook can only afford $8000/month, tough luck - I've got debt payments to make. Second, and related, is that this capital has to come from out of town, b/c there isn't enough in the local area to finance such a large project. As such, the out of town owner of the new developments are not only looking to maximize their rental income, they are not part of the community and couldn't care less if their tenants are local entrepreneurs. In fact, they probably prefer large, well-known chains b/c they are easier to market to the out-of-towners who own all the condos in the development. FWIW, there are two Starbucks in Vail Village per their website.

Firstly, most of America's development take place in time periods of 20 or 30 years. For example: Park Slope Brooklyn (my neighborhood) was built up over a period of 10-30 years. Most of the town houses in my neighborhood come in groups of 3 or 4 identical pairs . The neighborhood went from pastureland to a city quite quickly. There are a few new buildings that have been built over the years but the vast majority of the buildings range from 1875-1900. The shops in my hood are mostly boutique and there are a plethora of privately owned ethical coffee shops. There also happen to be 2 Starbucks. The rents and ownership costs in my neighborhood are artificially raised because there are out-of-towners who speculatively buy (mostly europeans, thanks to the strength of the Euro). There are new buildings that are built and the locals can't afford to buy in because the prices are pegged to manhattanites and europeans. All these new buildings prefer large well-known chains as well. I think my neighborhood is quite soulful, even though it has a lot in common with your criticisms with Vail's "soulless" base. Furthermore, I would rather live here now than 30 years ago when the economy was stagnant and crime was higher. Just because outside money came in doesn't mean it's bad. It created jobs.
Mike Bernstein wrote:Moreover, when your base village consists largely of national chains vs. locally owned stores/restaurants, an inevitable result is that you have fewer business owners in that village and more part-time, low-wage employees. This simply serves to reinforce the socio-economic divide between the wealthy out-of-towners and the locals. One of the reasons why Aspen and Telluride, for all of their faults and high housing costs, are generally considered "real towns" is b/c you've got thousands of year-round residents there who run businesses and form the fabric of a community. When you've got an economic stake in the well-being of a place, you tend to care how it is run and take an active part in the decision-making processes therein.

Again, there are towns in which the locals live and the base village that serves the resort. Although, most tourist don't spend in the surrounding towns, these towns benefit. There are a certain amount of jobs created by these villages (construction and service). Even though many workers are from outside of the community in these villages that isn't the case in Avon, Frisco, Eagle, etc... I think these "real" towns are better off with the "faux" base villages nearby. BTW, we should all read the history of Aspen. Before the mountain opened that town was falling apart. The mountain literally saved the town. However, it is very hard to be a local there as the rents are very high. There are a lot more corporate shops in Aspen than in Vail's base village as well. The population in Aspen is notoriously transient.
Mike Bernstein wrote:Now this isn't to suggest that you can objectively define "soul" and say with mathematical certainty that some places have it while others don't. What of Steamboat, Jackson and Stowe, with towns that are as real as it gets, but with relatively new, and somewhat charmless base villages? In sum, I can see both sides here. Soulskier's placing of labels upon a town based on some sort of simplistic criteria is a fruitless exercise. But it's no more worthless than Marc C's utilization of a still photo as some sort of rejoinder. What defines a towns soul can't be captured in a picture of a pedestrian street. It's more about how people live and interact with each other. Is there a unique gestalt, to use Marc's term, or is it characterized by a dull sameness that you can find at any tourist venue? As with just about any issues, there is no black and white here - just many shades of gray. It is disingenous of both sides to suggest otherwise.


But isn't this all based on the tourist's experience? No ski mountain can be sustained only by local support, you need outsiders to spend money. I would argue that the soul of the place has more to do with the tourist's interaction with town than that of the local. IMHO to say that Aspen is more authentic... come on,... it's a resort town with a lot of houses that are used seasonally, most of the development is new, and it's local shops: nobu, prada, and Louise Vouton, the Guggenheim museum. All resort towns are like that...
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Re: Ski Villages and Authenticity Revisited

Postby rfarren » Thu Apr 07, 2011 6:33 pm

soulskier wrote:Here is the link to the trailer for documentary Resorting to Madness, Taking back our Mountain Communities.

At 2:16, Hal Clifford and then Skip Harvey (Mammoth's current mayor) chime in with their thoughts that are relevant to this thread.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J0xEJCTr ... ded#at=211

I watched all ten minutes... I dry-heaved when the argument was made to save the town for the "dirt-bag." HA!!!

1, skiing is inherently destructive to the environment.
2, the reason why the the person who buys a second home and the ski bum who choses to reside in these communities are often one and the same. You can't say one is moral and the other isn't. It's a side-effect of the desirability of a given place.
3, Hearing someone in a resort community say "I think they should be responsible with development" is no different than hearing that in any other community across the country i.e. http://atlanticyardsreport.blogspot.com/.

4, the arguments made in those 10 minutes are about as water-tight as a cardboard battleship.
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Re: Ski Villages and Authenticity Revisited

Postby Da wood » Wed Apr 13, 2011 7:48 pm

All right there Rob; being that you are all-knowing and all-understanding in the vast realm of skiing, the ski industry and ski town politics/economics/quality of life; please do tell me how wrong, uneducated and naive I am for making Resorting to Madness. After all, my 20+ years in the ski industry, 24 years of living in ski towns, BA in History (a discipline necessitating impeccable research skills), MA in International Policy (a field that requires a hefty dose of economics coursework) and 2 years studying Ski Area Management at Colorado Mountain College (no, I didn't graduate, choosing to take a better paying job in the industry over paying tuition for my last 6 "internship" credits) certainly left me bereft of the knowledge and skills needed to understand such a complicated subject that you, clearly, have a master's grasp of. I must also humbly accept that the 13 months, 70+ hours of footage, 54 interview subjects and extensive research that went into making the film were wasted as you, being the final arbitrator of all things skiing, think that it is full of sh*t (or soggy cardboard at the very least). This of course means that the thousands of people that have seen and liked it, as well as the many ski industry insiders that have seen it and agreed that it is an accurate assessment of the state of the industry and resort communities (as of 2007, when it was made), are also wrong, uneducated and naive.

I hate arguing on the Internet -like arguing with a doorknob in my opinion- but I dislike uninformed pontificating even more. I don’t pretend to know all of what is going on demographically, socially and economically in Brooklyn, and I doubt I know much about what ever it is you do for a living, so I’m dying to know where your extensive knowledge and expertise of all things ski related comes from.

Since you so clearly state :
rfarren wrote:4, the arguments made in those 10 minutes are about as water-tight as a cardboard battleship.

then I challenge you to watch the entire film, not just the 10 minutes shown here (an unauthorized and poorly chopped up version for the record) and debate me on it's merits. I'll even send you a free DVD if you accept.

Gauntlet thrown. Please step up and show this granola-eating, unwashed dirt-bag hippie that lives on your tax dollars (all generalizations written here in these forums by you and your “ilk,” even though not one is true) where to stick it.

Let's get started with your current comments:
rfarren wrote:I watched all ten minutes... I dry-heaved when the argument was made to save the town for the "dirt-bag." HA!!!

This "dirt-bag" is a home owner, business owner, father of three and (I'm certain) twice the skier you'll ever be. He lives less than a mile from the base of Alpine among a neighborhood of million dollar+ homes that are vacant 4/5's of the year. He used to have other friends and families living nearby, but this is increasingly rare as they've been driven out by the costs of living there. Yes, he could move, but he hangs on to the dream of living a mountain lifestyle, at the base of ski area, and raising his kids there. I’d guess this makes him naïve in your estimation… As the neighborhood continues to "empty out" and the cost of living continues to climb, he may eventually have to move to a tract home in lovely Reno, thereby folding his business and putting his half dozen employees out of work (and then they too, will move on, reducing the population even more). I know you don't care, and that’s your right, but his friends do, he does, his family does, others trying to make a life in Tahoe do, and I do. Why do you care that we’d like to find a solution so that we can have community and economic activity in the same place? Why are you so dead-set against people seeking solutions to these problems?

rfarren wrote:1, skiing is inherently destructive to the environment.

Human activity is destructive to the environment, period. That is why those of us with a concern for our health and well-being, the health and well-being of our children and of people centuries from now try to minimize, reverse or stop destroying and damaging our environments. Are you suggesting that since skiing is destructive, might as well just keep on destroying? If so, you lack foresight, compassion and imagination. Perhaps you own a big stake in VR or are an equity holder in East-West or KSR and you don’t want the pesky and naïve locals getting in the way of your ROI? Despite the obvious fallacy that green means loss of profit, there are ways to find balance between development and environmental quality.

rfarren wrote:2, the reason why the the person who buys a second home and the ski bum who choses to reside in these communities are often one and the same. You can't say one is moral and the other isn't. It's a side-effect of the desirability of a given place.

Neither the film, myself or any of the interview subjects say anything about morality, or a lack of morals among second homeowners, you do. Why? Are you defensive about something? The film discusses the causes, effects and possible solutions of the issues that are impacting mountain resort communities. Among those issues is the displacement of those people that make up a healthy community as a result of second home sales, speculative real estate development, expensive luxury amenities and environmental degradation. The quotes that you misinterpreted are about this subject and as you are one of the very tourists that these amenities are targeted at, I must assume that you feel (perhaps unconsciously) that you’ve been vilified even though you haven’t. If so, why is it that any questioning of the status quo stings so much, and why don’t you try to look at the subject objectively and logically?

rfarren wrote:3, Hearing someone in a resort community say "I think they should be responsible with development" is no different than hearing that in any other community across the country i.e. http://atlanticyardsreport.blogspot.com/.

Yes this is true. No one thinks otherwise. What is your point? Are you suggesting that perhaps stakeholders shouldn't have a say in what happens in their communities? Judging from the tone of many of your comments here and elsewhere on these forums, perhaps you think that only the wealthiest have any say in what happens in a community. Money = power: if you don't have the money, you shouldn't have a say in what happens where you live. I’m sure that you don’t live your life at the whim of those with more wealth and power. You strive to improve your situation and you work to insure that you can continue to enjoy your quality of life, just like those of my “ilk” that live in ski and resort communities. I would hope that these same mores would apply to your neighbors and to future generations as well.



Ok, let me know what an idiot I am and how uninformed anyone that cares about their community is, I’m dying to be schooled by those that know so much more about the world than little naïve me.

By the way, forgive me for having the presumption of refuting these comments of yours from earlier in this thread. After all I only lived in the “Vail Valley” for nine years, Leadville two years and Summit County for a year. I believe that you’ve skied Vail and maybe The Beave once or twice.

rfarren wrote:I didn't see a single Starbucks in vail's village. I didn't see any corporate stores there either... Those I saw were in eagle, but even then it wasn't in any greater concentration than any other place I know of. Also a community doesn't choose what type of stores open up, that has to do with rent. If you own a building you will try to maximize profits, not doing so isn't soulful it's stupid.

Than you need to check your glasses. There is a prominent Starbucks in the Austria Haus on the corner facing the parking structure as you start walking up Bridge Street towards the covered bridge. “But wait!” you say. Yes locals consider that area the Village and that spot used to be a fun, locally owned bar that the locals liked to hang out at (rumor, unsubstantiated but possible, is that the Town of Vail and Vail Resorts didn’t like a bunch of drunk locals having fun at the gateway to Bridge Street, so they asked the Austria Haus to boot them). There’s also one in Lionshead and in West Vail. There are plenty of corporate stores in Vail, you just don’t recognize them for good reason. Vail Resorts tries to vertically integrate their operations at all of their mountains. In Vail, they own Colorado Mountain Express, the only non-limo shuttle service to DIA and one of two shuttles to Eagle Airport. They wholly own Specialty Sports Venture (SSV) which includes the operations of the Vail Sports franchise, the North Face, Burton, Quicksilver and Patagonia stores you see in town as well as the One Track Mind snowboard shop. This accounts for twelve of the roughly seventeen (not sure the current number) full service shops between Golden Peak and Lionshead and they own several small “sunglass, and sunscreen” shops as well. SSV also runs Bicycle Village stores on the Front Range, Colorado Ski & Golf, Boulder Ski Deals, Aspen Sports, Telluride Sports and Mountain Sports Outlet among others. Vail also owns and runs the Lodge at Vail and Arrabelle at Vail Square, which make up a significant proportion of the bed base in Vail Village and Lionshead. Then there is Vail Real Estate, which under several different names, controls more than 2/3’s of the real estate transactions in the Valley. There are other chains as well, Christy Sports being one of the more visible ones I can think of. In effect, the town of Vail is very corporate, it is just one corporation that predominates.

As to your last comment, I must assume that I’m stupid because I don’t always seek to maximize my profit when I see that there can or will be negative externalities. If so, I’ll happily wear the “stupid” mantle rather than seek profit at any cost, but if you can convince me otherwise, I’ll let my renters know that they are out on their asses next month because I’m sure I can get an extra $50-$100/month for that place, never mind that they pay their rent on time, take good care of the property and that their value to the community –which I love as much as they do- is worth far more to me in non-monetary terms than that extra $50/month…

rfarren wrote:That is true for the base village but remember that there are communities around the these places that have full time residents who benefit from the base village. Why does the community at the base have to be the center of attention for residents? Avon has been around over a hundred years, the ski mountain of vail barely 50. Would Avon's community and economy be better off without Vail?

Avon was a ranch and farm owned by the Nottingham family with a population fewer than 15 when Vail opened in 1962. Prior to that it never was incorporated, had a post office or had a population in excess of 20 people. It was incorporated in the late 70’s and much of the population lived in a trailer park between the railroad and the river until it was replaced by the luxury Westin Riverfront Resort and Spa. Today, the majority of the population lives in the one remaining trailer park in town (next to I-70) and in the complex known as Sun River. The rest are scattered about the numerous condo complexes, up on the hill in Wildridge, the –mainly immigrant- trailer park in Edwards (which also wasn’t a town prior to Vail’s opening), have moved into what little affordable housing has been built in the area, migrated to Eagle, Gypsum or beyond (classic “down valley migration” with extensive negative externalities in terms of economic, social and environmental issues) or have left completely.

Minturn was the only real “town” near Vail and it was a railroad town with a large proportion of its residents third generation Mexican-Americans, many of whom lived in trailer parks and rentals, that worked at Gilman when the mine was open or worked for the railroad. Minturn survived somewhat insulated from the economic activity in the rest of the Valley until the late 90’s when the railroad closed the line and developable private land in the rest of the Valley was becoming scarce. Since then, much of the original population has been forced to move to Leadville and beyond as prices rose, their rentals were torn down and when the land on which their trailer (they owned the trailers, not the land as is typical with trailer parks) homes were located were sold off to build luxury real estate. A few were lucky and made some money when if they had property to sell, but they had to move out of the county to be able to afford a home of equal size. As a note to those of you that like to read into things, these are the facts, not a criticism of what happened.

So as to the last question, Avon wasn’t a community, so it’s a moot point; and I’d hazard a guess the Nottingham family wouldn’t be as wealthy -not that they were poor- but they wouldn’t know it. As for Minturn, many of those that lived there before Vail, probably would have liked to have things stay the way they were as many have been impelled to leave against their wishes. In fact some have said so, repeatedly, over the past decade or so.


rfarren wrote:There was no village at Vail 40 years ago, nobody was displaced. People who lived around there saw their equity values go up as a result. It was a windfall for those areas that prior to the opening of the resort had been economically stagnant.

As stated above, the only nearby population was in Minturn. A bit farther away, Gilman and Redcliff had people in them, but the were there to mine and work on the railroad. The residents of Gilman were booted almost overnight in 1982 or so when the mine suddenly closed, and the people in Redcliff, many retired miners and their families, struggled on using Geoff’s tax dollars (yes that’s a joke, people in Redcliff work just as hard as any of us do) and doing seasonal work. As for the site of Vail itself, there was nothing there. A cabin next to the West Vail exit and some sheep and cattle buildings and fences scattered about. No one lived there in the winter and in the summer it was used as grazing land and as an occasional picnic spot for drivers on US 6. The only local direct beneficiary of the creation of Vail was the rancher that sold Earl and Pete (Eaton and Siebert if you don’t know, the founders of Vail) the land that now forms the core of Vail. After some time, the Nottingham family benefited from their holdings and a small handful of other ranching families that had small parcels in the valley benefited, but in no way was there some kind of “windfall” for the area.

Also, am I to infer from your comment that you believe that a lack of land development is indicative of a stagnant economy? Logic would then dictate that any locality where ranching and farming is occurring without some sort of building boom or other development is “economically stagnant,” and that is an absurd argument that many ranchers, farmers and small communities would take umbrage with.



Rob, since you are so fond of generalizations and negative stereotypes, I think you’d appreciate my attempt at flinging the same at you, but I’ll decline because it’s not my style; sarcasm and irony are.

You want the DVD, let me know.
Last edited by Da wood on Tue Apr 19, 2011 8:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Ski Villages and Authenticity Revisited

Postby rfarren » Wed Apr 13, 2011 8:43 pm

That last post was interesting for sure, but clearly I've tickled a nerve. I don't claim to be the authority of anything, but if you can't see your own biases that are displayed not merely in your reply but in your documentary I can't help you. You look at a situation from one side, but not another. For example:
What would've happened to Minturn had the mines and railroad closed, as they would've, but Vail wasn't there?

Your views are overwhelmingly liberal, and that's fine, but I can't agree with you about things. As you say, you may not have argued the morality of the situation in documentary specifically, but it is implied, to say it wasn't is disingenuous. Did you have point behind your film when you made it? or did you just let things lie as they fell. Based on your trailer I felt you had a point of view that you were intent on pushing. BTW I work with documentary makers all the time and almost all of them know where they're going before they start a film.

I am happy you showed me that the shops in Vail are corporate. I'm glad that I know that now. Next time I go there I'll still probably spend my money there because I don't have a choice. I'm sorry, but to say corporations are patently bad is just a ridiculous a generalization as you accuse me of. :brick:

As far as the specific points made in your reply I can't argue point by point as I have a job and don't have the time to spend on it. However, in a general response your complaints are common across the rest of the country wherever there is development. Not to be cold hearted, but change is inevitable, that being said, what you're doing is to fight the good fight, but understand that I'm entitled to disagree with you based on your evidence and principles. Don't get get angry at me that I felt the arguments made in your trailer were based on emotion and were easy to disagree with, that's my right. It's like me getting angry that you made the film in the first place. I'm sure your film is great, and am more than willing to watch the whole thing, but it would be better if you understood that I disagree with your bias, not with your work.

I know I said I wouldn't quote you point by point, but:
As to your last comment, I must assume that I’m stupid because I don’t always seek to maximize my profit when I see that there can or will be negative externalities. If so, I’ll happily wear the “stupid” mantle rather than seek profit at any cost, but if you can convince me otherwise, I’ll let my renters know that they are out on their asses next month because I’m sure I can get an extra $50-$100/month for that place, never mind that they pay their rent on time, take good care of the property and that their value to the community –which I love as much as they do- is worth far more to me in non-monetary terms than that extra $50/month…

You should feel stupid for that one. If the externalities cost you in the long run then it's not actually maximizing your profits, but in this case, your just losing out on an extra $1200 a year. That is money that could go towards getting the word out on your film, which by my summation (based on your opinion of the arguments of your whole film) is strong enough to help ski communities far better than your tenant could.

BTW, please do send the DVD I watch 1 or 2 documentaries on Netflix a week. I guess though I shouldn't watch it off of netflix because it's a corporation, darn, I guess your damned if you do or if you don't... :roll:
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Re: Ski Villages and Authenticity Revisited

Postby Geoff » Sun Apr 17, 2011 12:35 pm

rfarren wrote:
soulskier wrote:Here is the link to the trailer for documentary Resorting to Madness, Taking back our Mountain Communities.

At 2:16, Hal Clifford and then Skip Harvey (Mammoth's current mayor) chime in with their thoughts that are relevant to this thread.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J0xEJCTr ... ded#at=211

I watched all ten minutes... I dry-heaved when the argument was made to save the town for the "dirt-bag." HA!!!

1, skiing is inherently destructive to the environment.
2, the reason why the the person who buys a second home and the ski bum who choses to reside in these communities are often one and the same. You can't say one is moral and the other isn't. It's a side-effect of the desirability of a given place.
3, Hearing someone in a resort community say "I think they should be responsible with development" is no different than hearing that in any other community across the country i.e. http://atlanticyardsreport.blogspot.com/.

4, the arguments made in those 10 minutes are about as water-tight as a cardboard battleship.


Anything with Hal Clifford in it automatically gets rejected out of hand in my book at being hopelessly biased.
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Re: Ski Villages and Authenticity Revisited

Postby Geoff » Sun Apr 17, 2011 12:55 pm

Da wood wrote:Let's get started with your current comments:
rfarren wrote:I watched all ten minutes... I dry-heaved when the argument was made to save the town for the "dirt-bag." HA!!!

This "dirt-bag" is a home owner, business owner, father of three and (I'm certain) twice the skier you'll ever be. He lives less than a mile from the base of Alpine among a neighborhood of million dollar+ homes that are vacant 4/5's of the year. He used to have other friends and families living nearby, but this is increasingly rare as they've been driven out by the costs of living there. Yes, he could move, but he hangs on to the dream of living a mountain lifestyle, at the base of ski area, and raising his kids there. I’d guess this makes him naïve in your estimation… As the neighborhood continues to "empty out" and the cost of living continues to climb, he may eventually have to move to a tract home in lovely Reno, thereby folding his business and putting his half dozen employees out of work (and then they too, will move on, reducing the population even more). I know you don't care, and that’s your right, but his friends do, he does, his family does, others trying to make a life in Tahoe do, and I do. Why do you care that we’d like to find a solution so that we can have community and economic activity in the same place? Why are you so dead-set against people seeking solutions to these problems?


Jeez. This is the Rasta Pete argument from Blizzard of Aaaaahs. I'm getting absolutely nothing new or original here.

rfarren is simply saying that nobody is born entitled to be able to afford to live somewhere. I'd love to have a 3000 square foot penthouse on Central Park, a slopeside trophy home at GnarlyLand Mountain Resort, or a villa on the beach. Guess what? The law of supply and demand says those locations are going to be wildly expensive. I make due a mile off-mountain at some east coast hell hole ski area and 1/3 mile off salt water in an affordable salt water town for my housing. I don't resent the extremely affluent for being able to afford that real estate. I also didn't consume a year of my life making a documentary railing about the politics of envy. I definitely have no sympathy for somebody who lives on the Alpine Meadows access road. Unlike where I live, when they bought in a decade ago, they locked in their property taxes. The rest of California is subsidizing their existance due to a really bizarre property tax law where they can live in a million dollar home and pay property tax as though it were a $250K home. You'll notice what a financial debacle that has created in California. When you enact quasi-socialist law, nobody wants to pay for it.
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Re: Ski Villages and Authenticity Revisited

Postby Da wood » Tue Apr 19, 2011 10:13 am

Just for the continuity of this thread before I take it back off topic, the “Soulfulness” of any given ski town, or anywhere for that matter, is entirely subjective to each individual. I may agree with Soulskier that the manufactured ski “village” so popular in North American resorts lacks soul, but what Rob, Geoff, or anyone else thinks is “soulful” is entirely up to them. That said, I would suspect from my many conversations with both ski town locals and seasonal visitors, that the vast majority of people prefer a town with a more organic and lived-in feel. The best contrast I know of is to look at the town of Telluride and its neighbor Mountain Village. Both are packed during holidays and busy during the main ski season, but during the summer, Mountain Village only has any activity during the 4th of July holiday, Labor Day and the weekends of July and August. During the week in summer, you can wander the place completely alone, listening to piped-in music from some hidden speakers somewhere while looking at closed stores and empty display windows. It’s eerie and disconcerting, especially when there’s a cool breeze blowing through the stone and concrete alleys. At least the few employees at the information desk and the North Face store (offering great deals on all of last year’s unsold inventory BTW) are pleased to see you as they are bored to tears and happy for the conversation. On the other hand, the town of Telluride gets quiet during the shoulder seasons –when Mountain Village is entirely deserted- but there are still people about, businesses open and the obvious activity of a real town. During the summers, it still feels like a bustling (sometimes too bustling during the festival weekends) town with all of the character, quirkiness and uniqueness that makes such places attractive to most people -although to be fair, you’ll also see a few of the much-maligned stinky, granola-eating trust fund hippie types lurking about the streets, still confused over the loss of Baked In Telluride to fire (how’s that for a broad-brush generalization?). Now that I live in a city and have to plan my vacations instead of skiing whenever I feel like it, I’d prefer town over Mountain Village every time, but that’s just what I like. For a funny, tongue-in-cheek “expose” on Mountain Village, check out The Lost People of Mountain Village; just remember to keep your sense of humor intact.

Now off-topic:

For the record: as mentioned in my earlier post, the 10 minute clip that you’ve viewed here was not made by myself and is an unauthorized edit that takes much of the content out of order. It is not a trailer nor am I particularly happy about it, but I’ll let it lie as it is at least reviving interest in the film and helping us sell the last few DVD’s we’ve got taking up room in our closet. Resorting to Madness was made in 2006-2007, before the recession and its impacts on the ski industry. After its release, we toured with it extensively in the US and Canada and it was picked up for Internet distribution in Europe in 2008. It’s been in a fair amount of film festivals, including being screened in the 2007 Banff Mountain Film Festival, and to date it’s been purchased by people as far away as Australia, Greece and South Africa (can’t image that they have any of these problems at the two club fields there, so why South Africa I have no idea). From the feedback we’ve had over the past 4 years, the film has had plenty of positive impact in resort communities –not just skiing related- by educating local stakeholders and encouraging them to become involved in the future of their communities. Judging by the fact that it keeps resurging in the greater ski world, it would seem that it still resonates with people out there and it’s doing fine without the investment of the extra $1200/ month I could make by jacking up the rent for my place in Durango. In sum, we consider the film a great success despite the fact that my business partner and I had zero experience making films when we started and I wince when I watch it for all of its technical errors.

Geoff wrote:I also didn't consume a year of my life making a documentary railing about the politics of envy.

So Geoff, while you may think that I was “consumed” for a year making this film, I actually had a great time, meeting great people, skiing in some beautiful places, learning about the film industry, learning how to get a lot done on a shoestring budget and learning a hell of a lot about the ski industry. Being that we are both trained as researchers and writers, we strive to be as objective as we can (it is almost impossible to be 100% objective, I’ll admit) and spend a lot of time making sure we don’t come across in the pontificating, antagonistic, assh*le style of Michael Moore. Maybe if we did, we could make some real money, but our standards are much higher than that and in the end we made about as balanced a film about the impacts of the ski industry on communities and the environment as one can. If you actually watched the entire film, you’d see that the first third of the film is about the causes, effects and externalities of the industry, with a look at the most savvy of them all (and my former employer) Vail Resorts. As VR denied at least 4 requests for interviews, I had to include mention of their positive contributions at the end of their segment. Next there is a short segment on the community of Mammoth Lakes and its struggle to figure out how to deal with growth, and the last half of the film is given over to optimistic stories of communities and companies in New Hampshire, Colorado, California, Wyoming and BC that have found solutions to deal with some of the issues discussed at the beginning of the film. The overall message is that stakeholders in communities –business owners, homeowners, renters, ski companies, local governments- all have a right and an expectation to have a say in how their towns grow. Furthermore, the fact that most of the people in the film currently live in these ski communities and the rest have formerly lived in them should easily rebut your assertion that the film is about envy. These people don’t envy people in ski towns as they are the people in ski towns. I’ve asked this before but no one seems to have an answer: Why do you care that people in these towns would like to find solutions that allow viable communities and economic activity to occur together?

rfarren wrote:I am happy you showed me that the shops in Vail are corporate. I'm glad that I know that now. Next time I go there I'll still probably spend my money there because I don't have a choice. I'm sorry, but to say corporations are patently bad is just a ridiculous a generalization as you accuse me of.

Where exactly do I state that “corporations are patently bad?” Is this your assumption based on what I’ve said or just your interpretation of what the talking heads in the film say? Point out where I state this or where anyone in the film says this. I don’t think that they are bad and in fact own stock of some selective corporations and am married to a corporate executive. I do think that some are better “citizens” (after all, the Supreme Court has granted them most of the rights of individual citizens) than others and a rare few, such as Monsanto, come pretty close to the “evil” imagined in science fiction films. I think the more interesting thing is where the broad generalizations that you and others bandy about come from. The film shows the causes and effects of the type of economic development that occurs in many resort communities. Any assignment of ethics or morals is entirely up to you. If you want to argue the merits of whether or not resort real estate speculation is a cause of middle class flight, fine. But to make the leap that someone saying that as the cost of living rises, artist, teachers, “dirt-bags,” etc move elsewhere is an indictment of the ethics of the developers is ridiculous. Perhaps you should question why you immediately come to the conclusion that the film or myself are anti-corporate.

And Rob, you don’t have to buy at a corporately owned store. As a consumer, you have freedom of choice and there are still a few shops in Vail that are owned by local owners. If shopping at an independent store matters to you and it’s too difficult to walk the extra 100 feet to Buzz’s Boots and Boards or Kenny’s Double Diamond, than you probably won’t last long on the mountain (I’ll even throw in a plug for my best friend's shop in the Vail parking structure, Gravity Jones. It ain’t a pretty shop, but they tune every pair of demo and rental skis every night and they are a lot cheaper than VR’s shops, you just have to walk a bit farther…). If VR eventually forces the rest to close up shop, than you won’t have a choice and you’ll also lose the advantages afforded to you by completion in the free market. VR is very good at branding in such a way that you (Rob) didn’t even know that most of the shops you could have chosen to do business in were owned by one entity. At the point when one entity owns/operates ¾ of all retail locations in a market and is constantly striving to increase that market share, you should be concerned; if not on an ethical basis then on an economic basis as a monopoly will only mean poorer selection, service and higher prices. Also, keeping in mind that you will read this as “anti-corporate” even though it is a statement of fact: for every locally owned shop that closes, there is less money that stays in Vail Valley communities and more that goes to Broomfield and VR’s shareholders. If you live locally, this could be a bad thing. If you are a holder of MTN stock, it could be a great thing. I’m not alluding to anything here, just that these are some of the impacts of VR’s possible monopoly of the local ski related retail market. If you read otherwise, that is your inference, not mine, and any implied bias is yours.

rfarren wrote:What would've happened to Minturn had the mines and railroad closed, as they would've, but Vail wasn't there?

This is an unanswerable question. There are infinite possibilities in the realm of conjecture and we can’t possibly know the answer to them. What would have happened if the railroad didn’t close (there are rumors of its resurrection)? What if the price of ore didn’t drop so low in the 80’s? What if the Olympics were actually held in ’76 (Beaver Creek was to be the Alpine Venue)? What if the skyrocketing prices for minerals and rare earths leads to Gilman being reopened next year? What if Vail failed in its first few years? On and on…
Let’s attempt to answer it at its base level, assuming all other economic developments outside of Eagle County were as they are today. Minturn would likely have done just fine and would be comparable to Salida in terms of economic activity because of the following: the area would have (and did have, before the development that destroyed all of the valley floors and south-facing grass wintering range for ungulates) sizeable deer and elk populations, so it would have been a big hunting base in the fall. It is located at the junction of I-70 and US 24, two main arteries in the Central Rockies that would have accounted for plenty of service activity from travelers and commercial trucks, especially as it is almost equidistant from Frisco, Eagle and Leadville and at the base of two major passes. It is at the base of 2 wilderness areas with great backpacking and Mt. of the Holy Cross, one of Colorado’s most heavily climbed 14er’s. It sits at the confluence of the Eagle River and Gore Creek and just downstream from Homestake Creek, all of which are heavily used by rafters, (including at least 3 commercial rafting companies) and kayakers (much like Salida and Buena Vista). The Eagle River is a known as a “Gold Medal” trout stream (and would be even more pristine without the miles of development along its banks) and would draw its fair share of anglers. Ski Cooper and Copper Mountain would be about 40 minutes away for those that love to ski but don’t want or can’t afford to live in Summit County or don’t want to freeze in Leadville. There is great mountain biking in the area and it would be, like the area is today, a destination for riders seeking to escape the heat of the Front Range (only 2 hours away) in the summer. Like Salida, I’d imagine that Minturn would draw some of the arty, “soulful” folks that give many mountain towns the charm that most tourists, present company apparently excluded, like. Unlike the extreme real estate speculation that has occurred in the real Vail Valley (it would probably be called the Eagle River Valley, its real name), life in “alternate world” Minturn would be more affordable, although I’m sure that people would be arguing about the same issues as they do in almost every town. In short, “alternate world” Minturn would not be some Rust Belt type town withering away after the end of the industrial era, but more likely a healthy mountain community -not without its share of issues- that would be nice to live in. Colorado’s population has more than doubled since I was born and people continue to move there to find places like this mythical Minturn to live, raise families, start businesses, etc and the ski industry is not the be-all, end-all key to economic well-being for the state.

rfarren wrote:Your views are overwhelmingly liberal, and that's fine, but I can't agree with you about things. As you say, you may not have argued the morality of the situation in documentary specifically, but it is implied, to say it wasn't is disingenuous. Did you have point behind your film when you made it? or did you just let things lie as they fell. Based on your trailer I felt you had a point of view that you were intent on pushing. BTW I work with documentary makers all the time and almost all of them know where they're going before they start a film.

Well, I’m not overwhelmingly liberal, although the generic tag “liberal” probably comes closest to describing my overall point of view. In some topics I come closer to agreeing with conservative views than liberal, much to my truly liberal friend’s consternation. I’d surmise that you are not overwhelmingly conservative and that you, being obviously pretty sharp, take a more nuanced view on most topics. But perhaps because you believe that I am so liberal, you automatically assume that I am anti-corporation, or that I’m envious of those wealthier than I, or that the film implies that all ski companies and developers are morally bankrupt. When we decided to make this film (again, what you’ve viewed is not our trailer nor is it our edit), our original intent was only to explore the environmental impacts of the industry but as we continued to interview people in ski towns (54 or so all told) we realized that for many, loss of community, loss of business opportunities, loss of charm, etc, were as poignant, if not more so, than the environmental impacts. Thus, as opposed to most documentary filmmakers that start with a general premise and than build a story to support this view, we gathered all of the information we could and told the story of what we learned about how these stakeholders view their communities. As I mentioned in my first post, the vast majority (95% or more) of ski industry employees and ski town residents that have seen the film have agreed that it is pretty accurate, including the impacts of the ski resort development model. Yet these same people don’t all agree on how to deal with the issues. If they agree with the premise of the film, then by using your broad brush they all are liberally biased and apparently wrong. I believe that they are more qualified to judge what is going on in their communities than you are and furthermore that they have a right to be part of the decision making process in their communities.

rfarren wrote:As far as the specific points made in your reply I can't argue point by point as I have a job and don't have the time to spend on it. However, in a general response your complaints are common across the rest of the country wherever there is development. Not to be cold hearted, but change is inevitable, that being said, what you're doing is to fight the good fight, but understand that I'm entitled to disagree with you based on your evidence and principles. Don't get get angry at me that I felt the arguments made in your trailer were based on emotion and were easy to disagree with, that's my right. It's like me getting angry that you made the film in the first place. I'm sure your film is great, and am more than willing to watch the whole thing, but it would be better if you understood that I disagree with your bias, not with your work.

Great, we both work and I’ve spent an hour or two on this, which is more time on it than I should, but I find it great practice. Thanks for the comment that I’m “fighting the good fight,” that is a high compliment, but again (and I’ll keep asking), what is wrong with people trying to find solutions to the impacts of development in their communities? Of course change is inevitable, but most people aren’t going to shrug and accept everything that affects them. I’m sure even you don’t have such a fatalistic world-view, yet you have inferred in your posts that those that contest how these changes impact their lives are naïve and misguided and that is what I take umbrage at. I will admit that your comment about the film being about as watertight as a “cardboard battleship” (good imagery by the way) pricked my ego and resulted in my sarcastic tone and for that I apologize.

rfarren wrote:You should feel stupid for that one. If the externalities cost you in the long run then it's not actually maximizing your profits, but in this case, your just losing out on an extra $1200 a year. That is money that could go towards getting the word out on your film, which by my summation (based on your opinion of the arguments of your whole film) is strong enough to help ski communities far better than your tenant could.

Nope, still don’t feel stupid. As mentioned above, Resorting to Madness has run its course and made its impact. It continues to show up now and then, such as in this latest run here and on Unofficial Squaw, and we continue to sell a DVD every week or two, but we’ve better things to do than continue to flog an admittedly less-than-perfect (in a technical sense) film, so using the $1200 would be a waste of money. I think we can agree to disagree on this one. I don’t need the extra money as I live comfortably enough within my current middle class demographic. I don't need to accumulate all of the trappings of wealth that popular consumer culture uses to measure my success and self worth, and being somewhat knowledgeable about real estate, my property pays for itself. I also like having trustworthy tenants that pay their rent on time and take great care of my investment and I respect and like them as well, therefore I don’t feel the need to maximize my profit at their expense. Furthermore my tenants are skilled craftsman that make great beer in one of our local breweries –the town being Durango- and are involved in various cultural and social organizations in town. As such, they enrich the local community and make it a better place to live. What is important to me is that the community remain a nice place to live for all those that live there now, not just the wealthy, so I’m not concerned if the value doesn’t double in 5 years (not like that’s going to happen again anytime soon), in fact, I’d prefer that it doesn’t as it would permanently alter what makes Durango such a great place to live and if I ever bring my family back to live there, we will move back to a vibrant community and not the empty, itinerant, hollow place I lived in when I was in Tahoe City. But that’s just me…

Geoff wrote:Jeez. This is the Rasta Pete argument from Blizzard of Aaaaahs. I'm getting absolutely nothing new or original here.

Granted I haven’t seen Blizzard of Aahhhs in at least 15 years, but I don’t remember Rasta Pete. Are you thinking of Rasta Stevie? I can’t recall his “argument” much but I do remember that his less than impressive and rambling statement was along the lines of: “…things are expensive, man. We need to make things less expensive brah. Yeah, dude…” If so, then there is nothing in common with my film, and the people interviewed in it, with Rasta Stevie’s blathering and you are just being condescending.

Geoff wrote:rfarren is simply saying that nobody is born entitled to be able to afford to live somewhere.

Please point out where I’ve stated that people are entitled to live somewhere? Where in the few minutes of the film you may have watched (you did state that “anything with Hal Clifford in it automatically gets rejected out of hand in my book at being hopelessly biased” so I assume you didn’t bother watching any of it) did anyone say that people are entitled to live somewhere? I don’t read Rob’s point of view as being that simple. In fact he didn’t say anything even remotely like that. Here is what he stated and I responded to:

rfarren wrote:I watched all ten minutes... I dry-heaved when the argument was made to save the town for the "dirt-bag." HA!!!
1, skiing is inherently destructive to the environment.
2, the reason why the the person who buys a second home and the ski bum who choses to reside in these communities are often one and the same. You can't say one is moral and the other isn't. It's a side-effect of the desirability of a given place.
3, Hearing someone in a resort community say "I think they should be responsible with development" is no different than hearing that in any other community across the country i.e. http://atlanticyardsreport.blogspot.com/.
4, the arguments made in those 10 minutes are about as water-tight as a cardboard battleship.

Please point out where he says that people aren’t born entitled to live somewhere.

Geoff wrote:I'd love to have a 3000 square foot penthouse on Central Park, a slopeside trophy home at GnarlyLand Mountain Resort, or a villa on the beach. Guess what? The law of supply and demand says those locations are going to be wildly expensive.

Again, where have I, or anyone in the film (that you haven’t watched) mentioned that they’d like to have a bunch of expensive trophy homes? All of the people in the film live where they want to live and apparently live in places that you’d like to but can’t afford to. You are making wildly off-the-mark assumptions based on your own preconceived notions.

Geoff wrote:I make due a mile off-mountain at some east coast hell hole ski area and 1/3 mile off salt water in an affordable salt water town for my housing. I don't resent the extremely affluent for being able to afford that real estate.

If you consider your local hill a “hell-hole” than why do you chose to ski there? Your language here has a touch of bitterness that leads me to wonder if you are a bit resentful after all.

Geoff wrote:Unlike where I live, when they bought in a decade ago, they locked in their property taxes. The rest of California is subsidizing their existance due to a really bizarre property tax law where they can live in a million dollar home and pay property tax as though it were a $250K home. You'll notice what a financial debacle that has created in California. When you enact quasi-socialist law, nobody wants to pay for it.

This is a ridiculous statement loosely based on fact. I assume you are referring to Prop 13 which was enacted to reduce taxation on homeowners. Ironic that you complain about legislation that reduces the tax burden on homeowners while you also complain that ski bums use your tax dollars to live for free. Prop 13 has had both positive and negative impacts and to pin all of California’s economic woes on this one source is absurd. For the record, my friend and his wife bought their house a few years before the height of the market, and made an addition for their growing family, which means that not only did they have a pretty high tax rate compared to many neighboring houses that were bought in the 90's, but they were also reassessed for the new construction. To infer that they pay some trivial amount in taxes and that the rest of the state supports them is, at the risk of overusing the word, ridiculous. In fact, we pay about 10 times as much tax on our home in San Francisco than we do for our property in Colorado, even though the latter’s appraised value is less than 1/2 of our home here, so it’s not like California residents don’t pay sizeable property taxes.


Look, my philosophy is based on this simple fact: when I was born there were less than 200 million people in the United States and about 3.4 billion people on the planet. Today, there are about 310 million people in the US and around 7 billion on the planet. In 2050, there will be a projected 440 million in the US and a projected 9.2 billion on the planet. In my lifetime the US population will more than double and the world’s population will almost triple. We are inexorably using up our resources and polluting many of the systems that we need to stay healthy. Thus in the interests of the well being of my family, my friends, my countrymen and my species, I attempt to find solutions for our growing problems so that my kids and their great-great grandkids can still enjoy the quality of life that we do now and this, if anything is my bias. The outdated concepts of “to the winners go the spoils,” “trickle-down economics” and infinitely expanding economic growth so espoused by many of the conservatives in this country are outdated and dangerous and this is the attitude that gets me angry because I find that it is a direct attack on the safety, health and security of my children and of future generations. Some of you that read this may only care for their immediate well-being and I find that incredibly selfish, callous and immoral. Because of this, I will spend a huge chunk of time trying to get these people to care about our shared future (thus the time I’ve invested in this damn post). The issues we explore in our films are infinitesimal compared to the bigger pictures of changing climate, dwindling access to clean water and food, etc, but the search for solutions and the processes in understanding and coming to consensus are the same and are the key to the bigger challenges that we face. Concern of our shared world apparently labels me as a lefty liberal, which is some sort of mark of disgust and shame among the conservative-minded. I find it depressing and disheartening that my concern and work to better our world, or at worst, maintain it as is, is seen as a negative attribute and I feel the same way about those of you on this forum that spend a lot of time bashing people that strive to keep their communities livable. I’ll ask it one last time: why do you care so much if these stakeholders have a say in their communities?




rfarren wrote:BTW, please do send the DVD I watch 1 or 2 documentaries on Netflix a week. I guess though I shouldn't watch it off of netflix because it's a corporation, darn, I guess your damned if you do or if you don't...

Rob, PM me with an address and I’ll get one off to you ASAP. I definitely would prefer you watch the copy I’ll send you and not the version you can rent on Netflix. Not because it’s from Netflix -after all we gave them permission to rent it- but because the version they have looks like crap and the version we sell now looks, sounds and plays better. Plus I can autograph it for you with some trite personal message!
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Re: Ski Villages and Authenticity Revisited

Postby rfarren » Tue Apr 19, 2011 10:07 pm

Wow, that's a long response. I'm going to reply to this in a short way.

1. I find the telluride example comes up short defending your view. If telluride is anything like Aspen then the telluride ski village works in consort with the town of Telluride, not against it. The town of Telluride derives business from that development, and I'm sure the locals aren't fuming over the development. Furthermore, the town of Telluride has done very well because (not in spite of) of the ski mountain. I don't know for sure, but I'm confident I'm not going too far out on limb when I say that Telluride's #1 industry is tourism, and therefore has been helped immensely by the ski mountain. In this case what's good for the goose...

2. The population of the Mountain West has been growing immensely as you point out. But let's be clear that the population of Colorado has grown mostly due the growth of Denver, Colorado Springs, and their environs . Those areas have grown much faster than the mountainous areas of the state, as demographic graphs point out. I believe this is due to the fact that mountain towns are well known to be economically difficult to pull off. If you think NYC is tough due to the cost of living and what you make, that ain't nothing compared to a town like Crested Butte (I know as I have friends who moved from NYC to Crested Butte). Rarely is population growth a result of a people moving en masse to small towns, and for good reason (lack of jobs). That is why the majority of citizens in the USA live in cities.Image

3. There is a bias (a liberal one) of your idea of what's right and what's wrong in your post. I could sift through everything and quote you to show what I'm talking about, but I think you know I'm dead on over this. Let's call a spade a spade and end it at that.

4. Given your example of what-ifs invoked over my question of Minturn, we extrapolate a few things. There are several irrefutable facts:
a. the mining business went belly up
b. the railroads closed
c. Vail was successful but not responsible for the 2 above facts
Questioning any three of the above facts doesn't boost your point but ignores facts. We can't just say "what if a ufo landed on Minturn and turned it into a golden paradise?" Based on those irrefutable facts my assumption is that the economy in Minturn is much more vibrant due to Vail Resorts than it would've been without it. That being said, yes, life goes on outside of ski towns across the mountain west, but ski areas are unique (why doesn't your dirt bag want to live in Salida?). Secondly, artist communities need rich people around to buy art, otherwise they are just hobos. As Louis CK said about his wife "you can't just paint dollar bills to make them real you have to sell paintings."

5. When talking about "soulfulness" we are talking about something completely subjective. My argument has simply been that a purpose built village at the base of a ski mountain does nothing to make a mountain less soulful. It doesn't make a 2 foot dump less enjoyable, in fact, quite to the contrary as that village would keep my wife entertained much more so than a base lodge. Furthermore, my larger argument has been that it doesn't matter whether it's a purpose built town or an old one as the way the two function is roughly the same. For example, if we look at Aspen we see an old town which is entirely reliant on tourism. The town has many shops catered towards tourists which are corporately owned. It has many residences which are second homes which remain vacant for much of the year. Many of the workers commute into town from up the valley in Basalt and Carbondale. Other workers are seasonal workers from out of state. The cost of living in that town is tremendously high. So, in the end, the major difference between Aspen and Vail is that Vail was developed as a purpose built village and Aspen grew into a purposeful village.
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Re: Ski Villages and Authenticity Revisited

Postby Da wood » Wed Apr 20, 2011 11:26 am

rfarren wrote:Wow, that's a long response. I'm going to reply to this in a short way.

1. I find the telluride example comes up short defending your view. If telluride is anything like Aspen then the telluride ski village works in consort with the town of Telluride, not against it. The town of Telluride derives business from that development, and I'm sure the locals aren't fuming over the development. Furthermore, the town of Telluride has done very well because (not in spite of) of the ski mountain. I don't know for sure, but I'm confident I'm not going too far out on limb when I say that Telluride's #1 industry is tourism, and therefore has been helped immensely by the ski mountain. In this case what's good for the goose...

My point wasn't that Telluride didn't need the ski mountain, but to contrast the "town" of Telluride with the "town" (yes it is incorporated) of Mountain Village. Telluride would be defined as a town by anyone that visited it, I'd be surprised if anyone would consider Mountain Village a town outside of about 5 weeks a year. It is uncontested that Telluride has benefited immensely from the creation and operation of SKi Co and the ski area. In fact, the ski area was built with its primary access (and only access for some time) from the center of town. Mountain Village wasn't created until decades after Ski Co started running the ski area. As for locals fuming over development, that depends on the development. About 5-6 years ago, Neal Blue (owner of General Atomics and often accused of "extorting" conservationists by threatening development on pristine lands and wilderness inholdings) announced that he was going to build a golf course, a bunch of single homes, some condos and some fishing lakes on what is known as the Valley Floor parcel, which is the entire hanging valley from the west edge of town to the drop to the San Miguel River. This expanse of open space is seen by locals as the "gateway to Telluride" and one of the attributes that sets Telluride apart from other ski towns that have developed every inch of valley bottom (this is the huge untouched 570 acre meadow that greats everyone as they drive into town). The town, backed up by virtually every town resident, succeeded in preserving the land in a convoluted, angst-ridden, multi-year process (that is far too long a story to tell here, but worth looking up) that cost them almost twice the parcel's appraised value. Would developing the Valley Floor have created jobs and revenue? Yes, without a doubt, but the vast majority of stakeholders in Telluride felt that there town would have been permanently altered in a negative way and so they did something about it. That is their right as community members and IMO the town of Telluride is better for it.

rfarren wrote:2. The population of the Mountain West has been growing immensely as you point out. But let's be clear that the population of Colorado has grown mostly due the growth of Denver, Colorado Springs, and their environs . Those areas have grown much faster than the mountainous areas of the state, as demographic graphs point out. I believe this is due to the fact that mountain towns are well known to be economically difficult to pull off. If you think NYC is tough due to the cost of living and what you make, that ain't nothing compared to a town like Crested Butte (I know as I have friends who moved from NYC to Crested Butte). Rarely is population growth a result of a people moving en masse to small towns, and for good reason (lack of jobs). That is why the majority of citizens in the USA live in cities.

The population of Eagle County (home of Vail and Beaver Creek) has just about tripled, from about 20,000 to about 60,000 since my first year living there in 1989. This is a MUCH higher rate of growth than the Front Range. The same can be said for the Roaring Fork Valley (Aspen/Basalt/Carbondale), Fraser (Winter Park) and Summit County. Routt County (Steamboat), San Miguel County (Telluride) and Gunnison County (Crested Butte) have seen their populations at least double in this same time period. So while the Front Range may account for more overall people, as your graph shows, the population growth rates in mountain resort communities are much greater. Furthermore, ski towns along the I-70 corridor cannot be equally compared to places like Crested Butte since they are easier to access from major airports and/or major population centers and they have the added benefit of significant economic activity derived from highway traffic. Vail: two hours from the Denver MSA (2+ million people), 2 1/2 hours from one of the busiest airports in the country, 45 minutes from a mid-tier airport with direct flights using high capacity aircraft from several major population centers. Crested Butte: 4+ hours from the Denver MSA, slightly less from the Colorado Springs and Pueblo MSAs (less than 1 million people), 35 minutes from a seasonal, small-tier airport using low capacity aircraft on a limited basis, at the end of a dead-end road (in the winter). One ski industry maxim is that you need to be 2 hours from a major population center (by air or road) to succeed as a resort style operation (as opposed to an area in the "uphill transportation business," i.e.: a mom and pop).

rfarren wrote:3. There is a bias (a liberal one) of your idea of what's right and what's wrong in your post. I could sift through everything and quote you to show what I'm talking about, but I think you know I'm dead on over this. Let's call a spade a spade and end it at that.

Any bias I show is in my final paragraph, unless of course, believing that community stakeholders have a right to be involved in matters that impact their lives is liberal. If so, I'm guilty as charged and proud of it.

rfarren wrote:4. Given your example of what-ifs invoked over my question of Minturn, we extrapolate a few things. There are several irrefutable facts:
a. the mining business went belly up
b. the railroads closed
c. Vail was successful but not responsible for the 2 above facts
Questioning any three of the above facts doesn't boost your point but ignores facts. We can't just say "what if a ufo landed on Minturn and turned it into a golden paradise?" Based on those irrefutable facts my assumption is that the economy in Minturn is much more vibrant due to Vail Resorts than it would've been without it. That being said, yes, life goes on outside of ski towns across the mountain west, but ski areas are unique (why doesn't your dirt bag want to live in Salida?). Secondly, artist communities need rich people around to buy art, otherwise they are just hobos. As Louis CK said about his wife "you can't just paint dollar bills to make them real you have to sell paintings."

Again, we can't know what a Vail-less Minturn might be like, but since the railroad didn't shut down until the mid 90's, when many of the economic drivers that I mentioned had already become popular (whitewater, fishing, hiking, MTB's as well as the traffic of I-70 and US 24), we can assume that these activities would have been part of the local economy and would have buffered the loss of trains. As for Salida, it has its fair share of dirt bags, artists, retirees and all of the same characters one would find in a ski town. In fact, Salida also shares the same now shut rail line and is a much more happening place than it was 20 years ago when the trains were running.

rfarren wrote:5. When talking about "soulfulness" we are talking about something completely subjective. My argument has simply been that a purpose built village at the base of a ski mountain does nothing to make a mountain less soulful. It doesn't make a 2 foot dump less enjoyable, in fact, quite to the contrary as that village would keep my wife entertained much more so than a base lodge. Furthermore, my larger argument has been that it doesn't matter whether it's a purpose built town or an old one as the way the two function is roughly the same. For example, if we look at Aspen we see an old town which is entirely reliant on tourism. The town has many shops catered towards tourists which are corporately owned. It has many residences which are second homes which remain vacant for much of the year. Many of the workers commute into town from up the valley in Basalt and Carbondale. Other workers are seasonal workers from out of state. The cost of living in that town is tremendously high. So, in the end, the major difference between Aspen and Vail is that Vail was developed as a purpose built village and Aspen grew into a purposeful village.

I agree. As I mentioned earlier, "soulfulness" is in the eye of the beholder.
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Re: Ski Villages and Authenticity Revisited

Postby soulskier » Wed Jun 01, 2011 7:54 pm

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